A Wrexham woman who has been fighting COVID-19 in the intensive care unit after her mum died from the virus is urging the community to adhere to the rules and stay safe.
Denise Charles, 52, has also thanked staff at Wrexham Maelor Hospital for their “truly amazing” care after she was also treated there for COVID-19.
Denise’s mum Betty (Elizabeth) Charles, 82, from Hightown, passed away on December 23rd from COVID-19, whilst Denise was also fighting the virus at home and later rushed to hospital herself.
Denise, pictured above, said: “My mum was on the Prince of Wales ward, and she was on FaceTime with us, smiling and happy. Then the next morning, my Dad’s birthday, at 6.30am I got the phone call that my Mum had passed away. The nurse was so lovely, he explained that it was quick, and he had held her hand.
“As a family we were so careful about social distancing, wearing masks, and keeping my Mum safe. We kept ourselves so safe that we think we might know how we got infected from within the community.”
As Denise was self-isolating at home she was unable to spend Christmas with her family or grieve together. At the end of her self-isolation period Denise became extremely ill and her friend Leah Faircloth called for an ambulance.
Denise said: “I was blue in colour, shaking uncontrollably, being sick and couldn’t get my breath, I couldn’t walk up the stairs. If it wasn’t for Leah I wouldn’t be here today, I will never be able to thank her enough.
“When I got to hospital a doctor was stood outside resuscitation waiting for me. The rest went by in a bit of a blur, but I had COVID-19 pneumonia, and my oxygen levels were really low. Within 12 hours I was on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on a CPAP machine.
“I was in ICU for five days, during this time I can’t believe the way the staff worked. They not only looked after my physical health, but my mental health, and supported my family. I can’t imagine what my family went through, losing our Mum and then I was so very poorly.
“I saw how hard the staff worked, in full PPE, two hours on the ward and an hour off the ward. Never stopping, always caring and being so compassionate, I can’t thank them enough and I do owe them so much.”
Denise is now home after 11 days in the hospital and is now recovering but still feels breathless and has no energy.
Denise said: “My Mum was very involved in the church for many years and she was a part of the community in Hightown where she lived, but mostly she adored her four grandchildren, and was the best Nain there ever was, they were her life.
“I’ve told part of my story in the hope that this will reach out to someone, and in part to say the biggest thank you to the dedicated staff, who are risking their lives, and that of their families to look after people in their care, and also in the hope that it will make people think twice.
“I would not wish what has happened to my family on anyone else, and the only message I can give is, this is real. It’s taken a part of our lives we will never get back, please keep yourself safe and that will help keep others safe.
“I’ve seen videos online of people filming the ‘empty’ hospital. One was filmed on New Year’s Day whilst I was in ICU, which was extremely busy. The hospital has separated COVID-19 patients from others and postponed non-urgent care to free up capacity so some parts may have looked quiet but I saw first-hand how tirelessly the staff are working around the clock and these videos undermine that. I also saw how these videos affected the staff. Hopefully more people will believe COVID-19 is real, it’s ripped our family apart.
“The staff are putting their lives on the line every day in the fight against COVID-19, they saved my life and I can never thank them enough.”